The Unforeseen Results of an Unreliable Reliance

Bible Book: 2 Chronicles  16 : 1-12
Subject: Trust; Reliance, Untrustworthy

If you should suddenly find yourself faced with a traumatic, and potentially devastating situation, beyond your control, where, or to whom would you instinctively turn for help? Obviously, there are some problems and dilemmas we can, and should, handle ourselves. I’m not talking about those. The type of situation I’m talking about here might be a terrible financial setback; a rebellious child, who is literally ruining their life because of wild and dangerous living; perhaps you’ve received the earth-shattering news that a beloved relative, or your spouse, is at the point of death; or, maybe the doctor has just told you that you have cancer. Where would you turn? The answer to that question might tell us something about your relationship with God, or the lack thereof.

In 2 Chronicles, we have the story of Asa, king of Judah. King Asa started his reign well enough, for we are told, “And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 14:3). He initiated religious reforms in Judah, and attempted to destroy all the images of false gods, and their altars of worship. He also led the people of Judah to make a covenant with God, to seek Him with all their heart.

It was during this time that Asa removed his own grandmother from her position as Queen Mother, because “…she had made an idol in a grove” (2 Chronicles 15:16), or “literally, a horrible thing for Asherah,” 1 which is a nice way of saying that she had erected a vulgar, obscene idol, dedicated to the worship of Asherah (Astarte). This took a lot of courage and commitment on the part of King Asa, to put his faith in God over his family.

Though Asa was not entirely successful in his endeavor to turn Judah back to God, his kingdom experienced a number of years of peace (2 Chronicles 14:1; 15:19), due to his efforts.

However, for reasons known only to God, when King Baasha of Israel threatened Asa and Judah, he sought help from Syria, a heathen nation. His decision to rely on man, rather than almighty God, greatly displeased the Lord.

But as you might have already guessed, my intent today is not merely to point out the obvious spiritual mistake of Judah’s ancient king; but this is often the first response of many of God’s children, when backed into a corner by some sudden, fear-inducing trial. The Lord would have us learn from Asa’s mistake. Notice with me today, “The Unforeseen Results Of An Unreliable Reliance.”

I. Depends Solely On Human Resources

A. Notice The Crisis Involved

2 Chronicles 16:1, “In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.”

Baasha had usurped the kingship of Israel, after overthrowing Jeroboam I (1 Kings 15:27-29). He had been at odds with King Asa almost from the beginning. However, the friction between them intensified when many of Baasha’s people began to defect to the nation of Judah (2 Chronicles 15:9).

The words “in the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa…” are to be understood to refer, not to the 36th year of Asa’s reign, but to the 36th year of his kingdom, measured from the time it was divided from Israel. As you will recall, the nation of Israel split during the reign of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 10:6-19). Baasha only reigned a total of 24 years, beginning in the third year of King Asa. Baasha was long dead by the 36th year of Asa’s reign. 2

The point of this situation was that Asa found himself about to be hemmed in by Baasha. As a result, he felt that he had to remedy the situation quickly. Mark this well, folks; a decision made under pressure, on the spur of the moment, is likely to be the wrong decision. Isaiah 28: 16b says, “…He that believeth shall not make haste.” We would do well to remember that faith never moves the child of God to panic, or make hurried and rash decisions. Satan is a master at creating situations in the lives of God’s people that result in “sudden fear” (Job 22:10; Proverbs 3:25).

B. Notice The Cost Incurred

2 Chronicles 16:2, “Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the Lord and of the king’s house, and sent to Ben-hadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,”

The companion passage, found in 1 Kings 15: 18, indicates that “…all the silver and the gold” from both the treasuries of the temple, and the king’s house were given to the king of Syria, to buy his loyalty and assistance. Listen folks; the world’s loyalty always comes at a price, and even then, you can’t count on it.

Judas Iscariot is a good example of this truth. He sided with the religious leaders of his day against Jesus, only to find that they cared nothing for him, in the final analysis (Matt.27: 4).

C. Notice The Carelessness Implied

2 Chronicles 16:3, “There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.”

The first thing that should have tipped off Asa that this was a bad idea was the fact that he had to pay for Syria’s help. That kind of loyalty can’t be counted on. But let me relate that to our day. Whether you are a Christian adult, or a Christian young person, you should know that if you have to compromise your Christianity to gain the favor or friendship of those who are not saved, the price is too high. The child of God should never lower their standard of morality to gain the approval of the world. We must never sellout.

Another thing that should have cautioned Asa about this decision was the fact that the Syrians were already allied with Baasha. How could King Asa possibly be assured that they wouldn’t double-cross him, by going back to Baasha and getting a better deal? Asa gambled on the heathen, when he  could have had a guarantee with Heaven.

Asa’s alliance with the Syrians was just plain wrong, due to the fact that God specifically told the children of Israel not to make covenants with the heathen of the land (Exodus 23:32; 34:12 & 15). By the same token, Christians are not to ally themselves with the world of our day. Let me illustrate with the following:

John Suk writes, “Soldiers of the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst from her Berkeley, California, apartment on February 4, 1974. In return for her release, Patty’s kidnappers demanded that her father, Randolph Hearst, give millions of dollars to the poor.

“On April 15, 1974, the FBI identified Patty in a videotape of a bank holdup in San Francisco. On September 18 of that year, Patty was captured. She served nearly three years in prison for her crime.

“Patty Hearst suffered from the Stockholm syndrome. This condition affects some hostages who are so traumatized by their captivity that they identify with and become sympathetic to their captors. The syndrome gets its name from a 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, in which one of the hostages fell in love with her captor. People who fall prey to the Stockholm syndrome in essence sleep with the enemy.

“Many Christians suffer from a spiritual kind of Stockholm syndrome. We sleep with our enemy—the world. Worldliness is more than a fixation with card playing, dancing, or movie going. True worldliness is being caught in a sticky web of commitments to self.” 3

Ephesians 5:11, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

James 4:4b “…whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

D. Notice The Calculated Intervention

2 Chronicles 16:4-6, “And Ben-hadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abel-maim, and all the store cities of Naphtali. 5 And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease. 6 Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah.”

The fact that Asa acquired the desired results in this situation doesn’t legitimize this unholy alliance with the heathen—it does not make it any less of an unreliable reliance. For one thing, it sent the wrong message to the heathen Syrians. God had promised to protect His people from their enemies if they would obey Him and keep His commandments (Deut.20: 1-3). Calling upon the Syrians to defend them in battle, no doubt, diminished Judah’s God in the sight of the heathen. Asa’s approach to his problem should have been the sentiments found in these two scriptures:

Psalms 20:7, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”

Psalms 60:11-12, “Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. 12 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.”

II. Demands God's Rebuke

A. Reliance Upon Human Resources Was Unprofitable For Judah

2 Chronicles 16:7, “And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.”

We sure mess things up when we fail to rely on God in the midst of our trials and tragedies. What is being implied here is that had Asa entrusted God with Baasha’s threat, God would have given him victory, not only over Israel, but also over Syria, who would have attacked Judah as their ally. Asa, by trusting in an unreliable reliance, actually cheated himself and his nation out of a greater blessing and victory. Judah’s victory would have been complete.

Many of God’s people of our day are doing, in principle, the same thing Asa did by trusting Syria, rather than God. Many churches of our day claim to want revival. Yet, they approach the prospect of revival from a worldly point of view, with nothing more than a human agenda, which tends to be based only on a human formula, geared to enthuse and excite people, rather than facing them with their spiritual neediness. A well-known theologian and orator, the current most popular Christian musical artist, and flashy advertising and gimmicks cannot and will not produce real revival. In other words, reliance on human ingenuity, rather than reliance upon God, will not bring revival. We must rely on God to show us His agenda.

Several years ago, I was visiting with two young men from Nagaland, a northeastern region of India. God had moved in a mighty way in the region sending revival to the area. Almost the entire population of the region had come to faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit blew through the region with mighty power. I asked these young men about the characteristics of the churches.

They said that there were two very distinct results of the revival in the churches. First, the churches were filled with praise and adoration to God. Second, the churches were characterized by prayer. I then asked these two young Christian leaders what they thought the difference was between the churches in Nagaland and the churches in the West. They had an interesting reply. “The churches in the West have an agenda and they ask God to bless it. In Nagaland, we ask God to establish the agenda.

God’s Spirit pierced my heart. It’s so true about us in the West. We will develop a strategy and die by the strategy. We’ll ask God to bless the strategy—and even ask Him to use it for His glory. That’s good if it’s His strategy. But all too often we begin our planning instead of prayer and seeking God’s face. His strategy could look much different than ours. 4

B. Reliance Upon Human Resources Was Unnecessary For Judah

1. God’s Deliverance

Due to Asa’s earlier faith, God had wrought a great deliverance.

2 Chronicles 16:8 “Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, he delivered them into thine hand.” (Cf. also 2 Chronicles 14:9-15)

The problem with Asa’s entering into an unreliable reliance with Syria had not been the size of his enemy’s army, but the smallness of his faith in God. One would think that Asa’s previous victory, which was the result of looking to God alone for help, would have prevented him from foolishly relying on Syria’s help. Jesus once said, “…According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29b). Again, Jesus said, “…If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20b). Folks, faith is still the principle we as Christians are to operate upon, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). When everything looks impossible, we need to, “Remember it is the very time for faith to work when sight ceases.” 5

2. God’s Desire

God desired to come to Asa and Judah’s defense.

2 Chronicles 16:9a, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…”

The word “perfect,” as it is used in the verse above, means, “…‘whole.’” 6 “God protects those who are ‘wholeheartedly’ devoted to him,” 7 is the idea of the verse. The Bible says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). You see, the word translated “present,” in Psalm 46:1, means, “‘…has been found;’ that is, he has ‘proved’ himself to be a help in trouble,” 8 yet, Asa ignored the ready help of God altogether.

I do not mean to imply that God won’t allow bad things to happen to His people, but He has certainly proven Himself to be a helper of those who will entrust themselves to Him, such as is obvious in the following true story:

Henry Gardner was flying me to Asheville, North Carolina, in his Cessna 180. We’d taken off from Victoria, Texas, and stopped in Jackson, Mississippi, to fix a malfunctioning radio. Now we were nearing Asheville only to find that the fog was so thick that the controller wouldn’t let us land. “Sorry,” he said over the radio, “you’d better head to Greenville.”

But we couldn’t. We didn’t have enough fuel to make it there. “We’re going to have to land,” Henry insisted. We were granted permission to make an emergency landing. The radio sputtered a few times and he lowered the plane.

“Pull it up!” came the shout. To our horror we saw we were about to land on the interstate! Henry pulled hard on the stick and we barely missed a highway overpass.

“If you listen to me,” the voice on the radio said, “I’ll show you how to get back in.” and then came a series of careful, detailed instructions: “Raise it up.” “To your left a little.” “Easy, easy.” “You’re nearing the runway. Let it down—now!”

Suddenly the lights of the runway appeared out of the fog. Never had I seen such a welcome sight. We landed safely. First we thanked God. Then as soon as we could, we went to thank the air traffic controller, who looked at us in bewilderment.

“I don’t understand,” he said. “I lost contact with you after I told you to make an emergency landing. Your radio sputtered and you were gone.” 9

III. Deteriorates Into Unforeseen Results

A. War Would Be A Continuing Plague For Asa

2 Chronicles 16:9b-10, “…Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars. 10 Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.”

It is a bit ironic that Syria, the very nation that Asa relied upon for help against Israel, later brought

Judah to her knees, in utter defeat (2 Kings 12: 17 & 18). “…Vain is the help of man,” the Bible warns us (Ps. 60: 11b; 108: 12).

Asa’s old fleshly pride kicked in when he was rebuked by the prophet of God for relying on human resources, rather than God. He didn’t like the message, so he got mad at the messenger. Asa should have taken this up with God, and not gotten mad at God’s man, as well as some of his other people.

B. Unreliable Reliance Became Asa’s Practice

2 Chronicles 16:12, “And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not the Lord, but to the physicians.”

The point of this verse is not to imply that it was somehow wrong for Asa to seek out physicians for his physical problem, but that he looked to the physicians to the exclusion of turning to God for help. His pride would not let him seek God’s face in forgiveness for his sin. Had he done so, he might have lived many more productive years. But sadly, Asa, who started out so well, died a miserable and prideful man. It has been said that, “Habits are first cobwebs, then cables.” 10


1 Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, Editors, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, published by Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois; pg. 403.
2 John Gill, John Gill’s Exposition Of The Entire Bible, as published in e-Sword software. 3 The Banner, April 15, 1996, pg. 2.

3 Sammy Tippit.
4 George Mueller.
5 Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, Editors, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, published by Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois; pg. 403.
6 Ibid, pg. 403.
7 Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible, as found in e-Sword software.
8 The Editors of Guideposts, His Mysterious Ways, Vol. III, published by Guideposts Associates, Carmel, New York 10512; Pilot’s Directions, by David Moore, pg. 51.
9 An Old Spanish proverb.